The New England Patriots are coming into Paul Brown Stadium limping of sorts. Some players are injured and may or may not be available, while others are gone for the year. Bill Belichick, the master of playing things close to the vest, made a couple of moves on Thursday before the Sunday face-off.
Patriots officially place DL Vince Wilfork on injured reserve. Team announces release of TE Zach Sudfeld -- a surprise of sorts.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 3, 2013
The decision to put Wilfork on Injured Reserve was not a surprise. As was reported earlier this week, Wilfork sustained a brutal Achilles injury during the Sunday night game against the Falcons. Although it was figured that he wouldn't be available on Sunday, it still leaves a huge hole (figuratively and literally) on the Patriots defense.
The Sudfeld move has to raise eyebrows because of the situation with All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. After recovering from forearm and back surgeries that were done this offseason, common thought was that "Gronk's" return would be around the Week Six timeframe. If Sudfeld was found to be expendable in the fifth week, could it mean that Gronkowski will be making his first appearance of the 2013 season against the Bengals? We don't know, but he has been practicing.
As a fill-in for Gronkowski and the recently-imprisoned Aaron Hernandez, Sudfeld primarily played special teams. He recorded zero offensive statistics and one tackle. He was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Nevada.